Captured Snakes Are Not Objects for Photo Ops


Every so often pictures of the Malaysian Civil Defence Force (JPAM) are featured in Malaysian news media, showing them holding pythons and cobras caught by their men.

Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM) is quite puzzled as to why is there such a craze to photograph every reptile caught.

Reptiles trying to escape are already going through great stress from their encounter with humans. Since these are wild creatures, having avoided human contact all their lives without ever being caught in the presence of so many men, the experience can be traumatic for them. Moreover, what are these men trying to achieve by stretching the reptiles to show off their full length?

We would like to know whether these men are behaving professionally in the way they capture and handle these snakes. It is understood that there is a kind of standard operating procedure (SOP) for the catching of snakes. Is stretching out the snakes for photographic sessions part of the standard operating procedure? Have any welfare needs of the snakes been considered or abided by from the moment of capture until their release? There appears to be a total lack of concern or care for animal welfare.

The Civil Defence should bear in mind that Penang’s longest snake died at the hands of JPAM just over a year ago. All the prolonged handling and stretching of that poor python for the photo shoot, and the sad consequences, have not prompted JPAM to learn a lesson.

It is high time JPAM understands that while snakes may be large and robust, they can bruise easily and suffer injury when subjected to inappropriate handling and stressful picture taking.

JPAM should be tasked with exercising responsibility and respect towards any wild animals caught, rather than using them as objects for photo ops.

Featured image: eight metre python which died in JPAM custody in April 2016. Credit Herme Herisyam, Malaysia’s Civil Defense Force. Fair use.

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